April 13, 2024

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Israel Responds to Deadly Hamas Attack with Air Strikes on Gaza

Following one of the bloodiest attacks in decades, Israel launched air strikes on Gaza on October 8 in response to a rampage by Hamas fighters who killed 600 and abducted dozens in Israeli towns. The violence threatened to escalate into a major new conflict in the West Asian region.

The Israeli air strikes targeted housing blocks, tunnels, a mosque, and the homes of Hamas officials, resulting in over 370 casualties, including 20 children. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed “mighty vengeance for this black day.” Additionally, Israel exchanged artillery and rocket fire with the Iran-backed Hezbollah militia based in Lebanon, and two Israeli tourists and their Egyptian guide were shot dead in Alexandria.

Hamas gunmen in southern Israel continued to battle Israeli security forces 24 hours after launching a surprise assault involving rocket barrages and armed groups invading army bases and border towns. While Israel regained control of most infiltration points along security barriers and claimed to have killed hundreds of attackers, the situation remained tense.

The conflict has led to over 20,000 Palestinians in Gaza seeking refuge in UN-run schools. Israel has not officially released a casualty toll, but reports from Israeli TV stations indicate over 600 deaths.

The ongoing violence threatens efforts to normalise relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, a move supported by the United States, which could impact Palestinian aspirations for self-determination and challenge Iran, a key supporter of Hamas.

Despite Iran’s ally, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, expressing support for Hamas, Israel’s army spokesperson recommended against Hezbollah’s direct involvement. The situation remains complex for Israel, as dozens of Israelis, including both soldiers and civilians, were taken hostage by Palestinian fighters during the attack.

The attack took Israel by surprise, leading to criticism of one of the worst intelligence failures in the nation’s history. The “Tel Aviv Stock Exchange” indices fell 6% in response, and investors anticipated a shift into safe-haven assets like gold due to the ongoing violence. Western countries, led by the United States, condemned the attack, with President Joe Biden warning against any party exploiting the situation to be hostile to Israel. Meanwhile, demonstrations in support of Hamas erupted across West Asia, and Iran and Hezbollah praised the attack.